Friday, December 28, 2007

Frozen Warnings

The Marble Index is, for my money, one of the most difficult records to listen to Cale ever made (well, helped make). It's hostile and atonal, cold in a way the New York 1960s recordings aren't, and relentlessly SLOW - not to mention Nico's voice and melodies are more than usually soporific. It's an album I admire more than I enjoy: Nico's vision is singularly intense and Cale's "arrangements" are some of the most interesting music he's ever written, but I find it almost impossible to identify with the mindset behind it.

The song I most enjoy is the most tuneful thing present, "Frozen Warnings." The vocal melody is a weird blend of Gregorian chant and Indian raga, and shows more movement than most other tracks. The backing music builds up around an organ/viola drone, creating a feeling of suspended animation. I don't know what else I can say - this is hard music to talk about.

Well, here's something. Cale wrote a piano part and performed this in the Nico retrospective film Nico: Icon. Below is a video; here's an mp3 of that performance. Great stuff.


Anonymous said...

I have not seen this in years. I saw the Nico: Icon documentary in the theater when it was originally released and sat there in amazement when John Cale performed Frozen Warnings at the end of the movie. What a wonderful interpretation of one of my favorite songs by Nico. I would John Cale is one of the few artists that can cover a Nico song and do it justice. The same can be said of Nico. Her live performances included a beautiful version of John Cale’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”. A superb cover of this song by sung by Nico can be heard on the Cale bootleg CD “Doctor Dark”. There has always been so much written about the collaboration between Cale and Reed but often overlooked is the collaboration between Cale and Nico. A fascinating look at John Cale and Nico in the early to mid 1980’s can be found in James Young’s book “Nico: The End”. Anyways, Thanks for posting Frozen Warnings. Watching Cale do this again reminds me why he is my favorite artist.

Anonymous said...

Psst... I hear Nico's cover of Child's Christmas in Wales is also available in the previous post ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow thank you for posting this mp3. I, too, saw this film in the theater and I felt paralyzed while watching and listening to this beautiful version of a wonderful song. It seemed such a perfect way to end a film about a great talent who left us too soon.